Roberto Merhi, Nicholas Latifi, Formula Renault 3.5, Red Bull Ring, 2015

Merhi banned after “dangerous” post-race crash

Weekend Racing Wrap

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Roberto Merhi was thrown out of the Formula Renault 3.5 double-header at the Red Bull Ring after causing a massive crash at the end of the first race.

Elsewhere last weekend Sebastien Bourdais took his second IndyCar win of the year in fine style, Antonio Felix da Costa scored a breakthrough DTM victory at Zandvoort and the World Touring Car Championship tackled the spectacular Villa Real street circuit.

Formula Renault 3.5

Round 5: Red Bull Ring, Austria

Start, race one, Formula Renault 3.5, Red Bull Ring, 2015Manor F1 driver Roberto Merhi looked set for his best weekend of the season so far after putting his Pons car fifth and second on the grid for the two Austrian races. Unusually both races were held on Sunday, bookending a European Le Mans Series race.

However Merhi’s day turned sour when he was given a ten-second time penalty for abusing track limits. This would have dropped him to eleventh from his original finishing position of fourth, but the stewards handed down a much tougher penalty after he triggered a major accident involving Nicholas Latifi.

Immediately after crossing the line Merhi slowed almost to a stop approaching the second position on the grid where he was due to start the afternoon’s race from. Latifi, who was battling with Tom Dillmann as he finished, slammed into the Pons car, launching into a roll (see first video). The stewards accused Merhi of “dangerous” driving and excluded him from both races.

Merhi, who later claimed he had slowed because of a suspension problem he incurred following contact at turn one during the race, described the penalty as “excessive”.

“Watching the video of the accident it’s obvious that when I slow down I move towards the pit wall and the people behind me are quite far away and on the other side of the start finish line,” he said. “There wasn’t any recklessness that would justify such a penalty and the result was all totally by chance, with a series of very bad luck that lead to the accident.”

Mathieu Vaxiviere had fallen to sixth in the first race but converted pole to victory in the second to minimise his points loss to Rowland.

Next round: Silverstone (5th-6th September)

European Formula Three

Round 7: Zandvoort, Netherlands

Three different winners shared the spoils in Zandvoort, but none will be happier than Markus Pommer, who picked up his first ever podium and win in the same weekend on different races.

Antonio Giovinazzi won the opening race from pole ahead of fellow title contender Felix Rosenqvist and podium debutant Pommer. Ferrari junior Lance Stroll enjoyed a calmer than usual race to claim fourth ahead of Championship leader Charles Leclerc, which would later prove the Monegasque’s best result of the weekend.

The result of race two was race one reversed, as Rosenqvist won from pole ahead of Giovinazzi, with Jake Dennis taking the final podium spot in third. Meanwhile it was a disastrous race for Leclerc, who retired after a crash caused by damage following an early incident with Stroll, in which the Canadian retired.

Race three looked set to almost be a decider between Rosenqvist and Giovinazzi, with the latter on pole, but both were beaten to the flag by first-time winner Pommer, who made a brilliant move on Giovinazzi at the start to take a lead he never relinquished. After a relatively calm opening two races, race three saw further carnage that has dogged the Championship in the past three events. Matt Solomon and Mikkel Jensen brought out the first two Safety Cars with solo crashes apiece early on, while on lap 11 Gustavo Menezes and Nicolas Pohler collided, triggering the third and final interruption.

Giovinazzi therefore took the championship lead from Leclerc, who only managed tenth in the final race of the weekend. With 12 races remaining 7.5 points separates the pair, with Rosenqvist a further 19.5 behind.

Next race: Red Bull Ring (1st-2nd August)

DTM

Round 4: Zandvoort, Netherlands

BMW’s sweep of the top five places in race two was a less dominant performance than they managed in the opening event at Zandvoort, where the top seven places were filled by M4s.

On Saturday Marco Wittmann gave BMW their first win in the Netherlands since their DTM comeback. The reigning champion started second, passed pole sitter Augusto Farfus at turn one, and shrugged off pressure from Antonio Felix da Costa also in the closing stages. Maxime Martin ensured the pole sitter did not reach the podium – Farfus crossed the line in fourth, while Bruno Spengler, Timo Glock and Tom Blomqvist completed the BMW sextet.

Having taken his first DTM podium on Saturday, Da Costa went one better on Sunday with a commanding drive to victory from pole position. Farfus, Spengler, Glock and Wittmann followed him home. Championship leader Jamie Green has now gone three races without adding to his tally, allowing Mattias Ekstrom and Pascal Wehrlein to close within five points of him. Despite a strong weekend for BMW their highest driver in the points standings, Spengler, is 29 points adrift.

Next race: Red Bull Ring (1st-2nd August)

World Touring Car Championship

Round 8: Vila Real, Portugal

Portugal’s Vila Real street circuit was first used in the 1930s. Having recently been shortened and brought up to modern standards, the fast, narrow and spectacular course held its first World Touring Car Championship meeting last weekend.

Jose Maria Lopez was back in charge during race one, winning from pole position. The result was a major shot in the arm for his championship hopes, as Yvan Muller was only able to rise to seventh having qualified ninth.

The privateer Honda of Norbert Michelisz took third after Hugo Valente retired following first-lap contact with Ma Qing Hua, while the factory team drivers of Gabriele Tarquini and Tiago Monteiro lagged behind in fourth and fifth respectively.

Tenth on the grid for race one meant Ma started the second race from pole position, and he delivered his first victory of the year after Nicky Catsburg’s heavy impact with the barrier proceedings to an early close.

It had been an eventful race for Catsburg, who tangled with a fast-starting Monteiro on lap one, sending the Honda driver crashing out. That brought the Safety Car out for five laps, and after racing resumed an error by Catsburg allowed Loeb and Michelisz to pounce. Both went either side of the Lada but Loeb was tipped into a spin, crashing out.

Behind Ma, Muller took second place to recover some of the points lost to Lopez, who came in fifth.

Next race: Twin Ring Motegi (13th September)

Australian V8s

Round 6: Townsville, Queensland



Ford’s Mark Winterbottom won the first of two races in Townsville from second on the grid, holding off David Reynolds. Fabian Coulthard took third after pole sitter Chaz Mostert dropped to eighth with a suspension problem.

Winterbottom doubled up the next day after Volvo driver Scott McLaughlin took his first pole position of the season for race two (video above). McLaughlin lost out to Reynolds and Mostert at the start and eventually retired with a power steering fault. Winterbottom moved to second after the pit stops, and took the lead from Reynolds towards the end to take victory and extend his championship lead to 248 points.

Next race: Ipswich (1st-2nd August)

NASCAR

Round 18: Kentucky Speedway

Kyle Busch won his second race in three weeks in Kentucky, giving his hopes in the Chase a major boost with only eight races to go until the play-offs begin. He took the lead from Joey Logano with 19 laps remaining and held on to take the win. Logano finished second, with Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth completing the top five.

Next race: New Hampshire Motor Speedway (19th July)

Indycar

Round 12: Milwaukee

No one has won more than two races in IndyCar so far this year and Sebastien Bourdais became the fourth driver to do so after an astute strategy gamble at the Milwaukee Mile. Bourdais avoided pitting when the race was neutralised shortly before half-distance, and made good his escape at the restart before making his pit stop.

Now on fresher tyres than his rivals, at one stage Bourdais lapped the entire field. He took the chequered flag first ahead of Helio Castroneves, who had also gambled on his strategy after qualifying poorly, and Graham Rahal, who made his now customary late-race charge.

Points leader Juan Pablo Montoya took fourth and holds a 54-point lead over Scott Dixon, with Rahal and Castroneves a further 15 behind.

Race highlights not available yet.

Next round: Iowa (18th July)

Also last weekend

The Auto GP double-header at Zandvoort failed to go ahead, the previous round in France having been cancelled to to a lack of entries.

Over to you

In the first of two weekends in a row without Formula One, did you watch any other motorsports to whet your appetite?

Next weekend’s Racing Wrap will feature Indycar, Super Formula and NASCAR. Are there any other major four-wheeled races taking place you’ll be watching? Let us know in the comments.

Thanks to @mathers for contributing to this article.

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Posted on Categories Formula 3, IndyCar, NASCAR, Weekend racing wrap, World Touring Car Championship

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  • 73 comments on “Merhi banned after “dangerous” post-race crash”

    1. Jesus, Merhi is an idiot. What a dangerous manoeuvre.

      1. He did nothing wrong in my view. The guy who crashed into him is an idiot. Where was he looking? Rubbish penalty… and I don’t even like Merhi.

        1. must be the only place in the world were you get off from hitting someone in the rear,

          ive seen many a F1 car do that, slow down on the track at the end of the race..
          in other words you don’t have to watch where your going after crossing the line? everyone in front of you is fair game to hit and they will get penalized not you,
          the stewards have no idea how big a can of worms this could open up..

        2. Slowing to almost a complete stop only yards from the finish line of a race where drivers behind are approaching at full speed is “doing nothing wrong”? Really??

      2. Not only that but… I feel he should not be in F1. F1 is suppose to be the best of the best. He cannot even keep winning in F3.5 which I find the top guy in that category should at least have his seat.

        Pay drivers are starting to look more ordinary to me these days. So in my opinion he is not just an idiot. He is a regular driving idiot. One you can find on any highway.

    2. Mehri should consider himself lucky, I think he should have got a longer ban. One of the most brainless pieces of driving I’ve seen for a while.

      1. Why is no one talking about where the other driver was looking?

        Sure, what Mehri did was not very smart, and contrary to previous instructions, as I understand. But someone might, for example, have run out of fuel or break down, I don’t get how it is not considered a responsibility for the driver miles behind to be looking where he is going.

        As in real life traffic, it most often takes two people doing something wrong for a big accident to happen.

        Two race ban for slowing down and pulling of to one side? We have seen less for people purposely ramming others.

        1. Completely agree with you Mateuss, Latifi could have seen Merhi for a while, he wasn’t tucked up behind that other car the whole time. And besides, if he had a suspension failure then there wouldn’t have been much more he could do apart from maybe move over a bit more. I still think the 2 race ban is unjustified.

        2. He was had just been racing someone to the flag at full speed. You don’t expect some idiot to park it 20 metres past the chequered flag. Which is basically what Mehri did.

          1. @debaser91 Again with the exaggerations…

            And yes he would have, had he been looking where he was going! (even every know and then would have sufficed)

        3. @mateuss Agreed. What the actual… How does Latifi not see that even in peripheral vision? He had several seconds to react in this situation. This is truly farcical.

          I’m not saying Merhi didn’t deserve to be punished for his actions which were dangerous in their own right but COME ON, these guys are supposed to be top quality single seater racing drivers yet Latifi was clearly oblivious to everything in front of him as he came across the finish line…

          This is beyond rediculous for a racing driver. Amateur enthusiasts bringing their own cars to open track days demonstrate far more awareness than Latife did in this crash. I even expect 80 year old pensioners driving on normal roads to have far more awareness and far better reaction times than Latifi demonstrated here.

          Then I click randomly to another section of the highlights video and see two other blatant infractions where drivers are being clowns and causing completely avoidable and unnecessary accidents/contact with other drivers.

          This just solidifies my opinion that for many of these “elite” single seater drivers ability, talent, competency, whatever you want to call it doesn’t even factor into whether or not they get a drive.

          There are too many incompetent kids who are not cut out for racing at this level but because they are fortunate enough to be funded by extremely rich parents they somehow end up competing at the higher echelons of single seater racing which should be reserved only for drivers who actually demonstrate competency in all areas of driving, not least of which is basic spatial awareness.

          I honestly can’t believe that anyone is defending Lafite’s complete lack of awareness in this situation. Yes, Merhi was at fault but so was Lafiti!

          If people are seriously willing to excuse a professional racing driver’s blatant obliviousness to what’s happening DIRECTLY IN FRONT of him on a racetrack then the standards that these drivers are accountable to are completely out of whack with what should be expected.

          1. @panache

            If people are seriously willing to excuse a professional racing driver’s blatant obliviousness to what’s happening DIRECTLY IN FRONT of him on a racetrack then the standards that these drivers are accountable to are completely out of whack with what should be expected.

            This.

        4. That’s kinda what I was thinking when I watched the video. Sure, Merhi shouldn’t have stopped there, but…. as I was watching, I kept expecting Latifi to just avoid him. It’s kind of like when a pedestrian crosses the road at a crosswalk and gets mowed down because he doesn’t look. When you’re lying there in the hospital, is it going to make you feel that much better to know it was the driver’s fault?

        5. @mateuss I agree with you completely

        6. @mateuss

          totally agree with you. Mehri slowed way off the racing line. This also happened to Ericsson in Austria when his car suddenly slowed on the pit straight.

          Looks like Latifi was going down along the pit wall to wave to his crew or something. He went way off the racing line, and he was leading the car behind him. His view wasn’t obstructed or anything.

      2. Yes Latifi should have been a touch more on the ball, but the speed differential was so great that by the time he realised Mehri was going so slow, it was a bit late in the day with the other guy alongside him.
        I disagree that Mehri was pulling off to one side. You could have fit a car between him and the pit wall (Latifi could probably have got passed if he’d swerved right and not left, but was probably thinking get away from the pit wall). I genuinely think that he was getting ready to do a burn out on the 2nd grid spot ahead of the next race and trying to be clever and salvage something from his day.
        Realistically it was just a 1 race ban, because being excluded from a race where you’ve just been classified 11th (after the time penalty) hardly counts as a ban.
        Ironic that after all this talk of driving standards in F3, its a current F1 driver in FR3.5 that is proving there are still improvements to be made.

        1. @eurobrun “Yes Latifi should have been a touch more on the ball, but the speed differential was so great that by the time he realized Mehri was going so slow, it was a bit late in the day with the other guy alongside him.”

          That’s a rather self-contradictory statement. Large speed differences are immediately apparent. (If you are looking) But you are saying, the difference was so big, it took so long to notice it? Even though I counted to 4 and a half in the time he should have noticed the situation?

          “I disagree that Mehri was pulling off to one side. You could have fit a car between him and the pit wall (Latifi could probably have got passed if he’d swerved right and not left, but was probably thinking get away from the pit wall)”

          As to not being on one side, consult this: http://i.imgur.com/89OPNqu.png
          The pit wall is not the end of the track, and there was no space on the right of Mehri (on the track), Lafiti chose to try and drive around Mehri on the left even though he was more on the right of him, you acknowledge this, but yet claim there was space on the right. Notice the people hanging over the wall.

          Mehri did deserve a penalty for not following the previous orders (assuming his car was ok). However the only one with complete lack of situational awareness was Lafiti, and that is the sort of thing that is completely unacceptable for a pilot of any sort of machinery and one would expect a harsher punishment for that.

          My issue is you trying to non-factually exaggerate someone’s actions while excusing an other one’s.

          1. @mateuss – not sure what that picture does to argue your case there… There is evidentially more than a cars-width to the right of Mehri but he chose to park in the middle of the track! He is stopped on his grid marker!

            Ignoring the fact that usually, if a car stops, you would expect them to leave the track if possible, there is almost an entire car width of actual track left!

            Of course Lafiti should have avoided him but why would he expect a car to be stopped in the middle of the track!? If you had broken down, you would have pulled to the side….

            1. @petebaldwin Yes it does, there is max 0.8 of cars width of TRACK left on the right. Are you seriously going to say this is the middle of the track?

              To give a quantitative answer, there are 420 pixels of choice width wise, he left 60 on the right or <15% of the track. And the racing line is on the exact opposite of this side.

              I'am not going to look through all the historic examples that show you wrong, were cars don't leave the track 100% after failing (here is one: http://i.imgur.com/4ilgauF.png), but just look at Verstappen in China, his car started to suddenly brake exactly where Mehri was, on the "inside grid slot line" and it is the racing like on that track, it is the de facto middle of the racing line there. This totally is NOT here. And it was during a live session in China, not after like here.

              Drivers need to be 100% aware of things like that. This is the most pathetic excuse making for Lafiti. "But officer, should I have expected that car to stop in the middle of the road?" Yes, yes you should, and you would have, if you had been looking where you are going, or had functional peripheral vision, as required by law to even drive slowly on the road.

          2. Even though I counted to 4 and a half in the time he should have noticed the situation?

            What, milliseconds?

            1. @wsrgo No, I said “I counted to”.

              My stopwatch says 2.7 sec, is the amount of time that went by since the situation started to develop, since you asked. The expected reaction from a regular road driver is 0.2-0.5 sec.

          3. so you are saying Merhi has the right to do stupiud thing becouse Latifi should have avoided it. If i was a race steward i would have given Merhi a life time ban

            1. @sepulhead Yes, because I did not explicitly state that TWO drivers doing something wrong is what it usually takes for an accident to develop, and I did not explicitly state that Mehri deserved a penalty.
              (sarcasm)

      3. Why doesn’t the race finish at the start line? What’s that all about?

        I think they should take his superlicence away, even if it’s just for one Grand Prix.
        It’s time we had some different drivers in F1 anyway, although I worry who Marussia might come up with as a reserve driver…

        1. Why doesn’t the race finish at the start line? What’s that all about?

          @bullfrog Its the same in F1, The race finishes at the timing line whihc is positioned opposite the race control room.

          This is done so that if all the electronic timing systems go down race control can time the race manually as it was before the timing systems were introduced.

          1. Ah thanks – I remember seeing lap times and winner’s names appear on TV captions, apparently before the car has crossed the line – now I know why.
            And positioned opposite the start line are the people who are even more (self-) important than race control… they’re probably not even looking at the track!

          2. @bullfrog @gt-racer They have to position timing line just before or just after all the pit boxes and that makes the difference between start line and timing line in many cases.

      4. That was one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen a race car driver do. I was screaming at the screen. Do we need Merhi in F1 really? Not if he is that ignorant. Rule #1…..DON’T park your car on a race track during a race.

    3. Had the WTCC recorded as I really did not want to miss this round. Watched some tennis with the family. In the end I accidently recored tennis which I was watching instead of the race.

      DTM and V8s remain the top series I would love to be able to watch but can’t.

        1. Piotr Koteryl
          13th July 2015, 13:14

          Unfortunately, yes…it is most frustrating!

        2. It sure is. Which is why I stopped following in 2014 as I did in 2013 – because the station they’re on in America isn’t carried on most cable packages. At least when the races were aired all the way in December and January, they were still on SPEED (now FS1).

          1. @crammond @rjoconnell Simply go through a german IP proxy. That’s what I do.

            1. @beejis60 @rjoconnell @crammond I use the free browser plugin ‘hola unblocker’, Just enable it & set it to Germany & it lets me watch the DTM live streams without the geo restrictions.

              https://hola.org/

    4. I have a feeling Merhi’s penalty was given because of consequences. Had there been no accident I doubt there would have been a race ban or that anyone even had noticed anything risky there. We’ll never know. Just saying, because I’m quite sure we’ve seen cars slowing down after finish line before.

      1. I’m wondering this myself because I don’t watch any Formula Renault 3.5. In terms of an effective deterent of the unsafe practice of doing practice starts/burnouts over one’s grid position after the race, then this is a very wise decision from the stewards. That’s assuming that this is the first time that someone has tried this, at least for a good while. If not, then wow, the stewards are more to blame than Merhi.

        As a one-off, I think the odds of his action causing an incident were quite low (again: as a one-off) but completely unnecessary. So I’m mainly feeling the “this is why it’s not a good idea to be clever on the racetrack” vibe rather than “what a ludicrously dangerous idiot”.

      2. I was thinking this too. It is very harsh for him.

    5. Wow! Mehri’s accident looked spectacular.

      I’m glad everyone was ok. I can’t see that he did too much wrong. He probably cleared the straight before slowing. Still, a two race ban? Seems a bit harsh. Each driver has a responsibility to look ahead when they’re driving. The closing speed was very high, but I’m sure this accident could have been avoided by Latifi.

      It was, perhaps a little immature, but he’s still learning his craft. Even so, I’m very impressed with Mehri.

      1. *… probably should have cleared the straight before slowing…*

    6. just a little correction @bradley13, it is “Vila Real” and not “Villa Real”, “villa” is a spanish word.

      Great weekend for Da Costa, nice to see him back to his winning days

    7. I was very impressed with Merhi’s driving in Formula Renault 3.5 last year in taking Zeta Corse – a team which previously achieved little and got through no fewer than seven drivers in the preceding season – to multiple wins, and by doing so staying in the hunt for the title until the final round. Off the back of that he’s managed to get himself an F1 seat which he’s still holding onto even though few expected he would stay beyond the fourth race of the season. Meanwhile in Formula Renault 3.5 he’s persevered with Pons – who were last in two of the previous three seasons – got a great result in Hungary and qualified well in Austria.

      But I’m afraid he made a lamentable mistake yesterday and I have a hard time taking his explanation for it at face value.

      Why, for instance, did this suspension problem require him to suddenly come to a complete stop having run with it throughout the race (he refers to an incident at turn one, and the only one I saw he was involved in was one lap one)? And why not pull over to the far right of the track, as far as possible from the racing line, instead of where he did stop, which was directly behind his starting position for the second race later that afternoon? That latter fact is what makes me suspect that his real intention was to do a practice start and lay some rubber down so he could make a better start later on.

      I see no reason to blame Latifi for this. When another car is stationary on the track drivers expect that to be indicated by yellow flags, and as Merhi came to a stop so quickly there was no time for the marshals to warn him. I know it’s easy with a road car driving mindset to place some blame on the driver behind, but on this occasion I agree fully with the stewards that the blame rests entirely with Merhi, and the severe punishment he got was fully warranted.

      1. Totally agree with @keithcollantine here. Mehri’s excuse doesn’t hold water in various ways and Latifi was pushing for the finish line without warning in front was a stopped car. F1 drivers have been told off for stuff like this in the past, even slow out and in laps during qualifying can cause issues (Vettel and Massa nearly crashing into each other a few weekends ago).

      2. Great comment Keith, I feel much the same way.

      3. I agree with your reading of Mehri’s side of the accident.

        Totally disagree with you completely lifting all blame from Lafiti. He was completely sloppy. For comparison, look at the intimidate awareness and reaction from the other drivers, before the yellows had time to come out. That is what is expected, if he had reacted, but still ran into him, you could say what you said, but he did not react for ages (in racing terms).

        1. Agreed: Latifi had plenty of time to react and drive round Mehri (who fully deserves his exclusion). Racing drivers regularly react to events that take place in a fraction of a second; the few whole seconds Latifi had is a comparative eternity.

      4. @keithcollantine, from watching the video it is clear that Merhi is already slowing dramatically before Lafiti even makes a turn to defend his position. Lafiti turns towards Merhi and then continues to drive straight for the back of Merhi’s car for, as @mateuss‘s stopwatch says, 2.7 seconds.

        Please, tell me again how on EARTH there is no blame for a driver who turns TOWARDS another vehicle and then has 2.7 seconds to drive straight into him???

        1. @neiana Because he has no reason to expect Merhi to be stopping his car at that point and no way of knowing he is before it’s too late. You do know these cars don’t have brake lights, right?

          1. @keithcollantine I am aware of that.

            What you have said is a perfectly fine reason if he swerved over behind Merhi’s car then swerved back quickly. It is very clear that Lafiti swerved quickly to get behind Merhi’s car then promptly [i]stayed behind Merhi’s car[/i] for a significant amount of time and then attempted to swerve back after the last possible second. The fact is, people driving these cars need to be aware of what is going on all around them.

            Just to bring a little reality to this situation, here in the USA it is taught that a normal person should have enough reflexes to avoid a dangerous situation 3+ seconds up the road. A racing driver under otherwise completely normal circumstances, should be able to best that. In this situation, Lafiti was unaware of a car in front of him. He was [i]defending[/i] from the position behind, [i]swerved[/i] behind an already slowed Merhi and then waited 2.7 [i]seconds[/i] (according to the stopwatch) before attempting to avoid contact.

            Did Merhi actually break down? Well if he did then that is 100% Lafiti’s fault. If he did not, then it is just a nonsense move by Merhi but still 100% Lafiti’s fault for two reasons which I will now repeat.

            1: He swerved [i]behind[/i] Merhi after Merhi had already slowed significantly.
            2: THEN waited nearly three seconds, behind Merhi before attempting to avoid contact.

            If Merhi or some other driver had crashed somehow by spinning out at the last corner, hitting the inside wall and was still moving by the time a car from [i]several seconds behind[/i] came around and ran into him, whose fault is it?

            Lafiti.

            1. Too many variances on format, I must apologize for the weird attempt at italics.

          2. @keithcollantine Do you have a driving license and drive regularly on normal roads? I’m not trying to take a dig at you, I’m just genuinely curious because as far as I’m concerned anyone who is accustomed to driving on normal roads frequently should know from experience that surprisingly often there are situations where a driver has to react (typically by braking with a quick reaction time and rarely by taking evasive action when there is no time to brake sufficiently) to avoid a collision with something in front which is moving at a much slower speed or not even moving and is completely unexpected.

            In such scenarios a combination of vigilance and basic spatial awareness is required, followed by the capacity to make a split second decision on how to react to the danger ahead.

            I can’t even count the number of occasions where I’ve encountered something completely unexpected on public roads and safely managed to avoid crashing, even in scenarios where I’ve been checking my rear view mirror at the same time as a large animal like a Deer has sprinted out from the side of the road in front of me. Even in those kind of situations my peripheral vision and attention are sufficient to notice the threat and avoid it and I’m no elite racing driver by any stretch of the imagination.

            Sometimes there are situations where a collision is inevitable no matter how prudent, attentive and skilled the driver is and thankfully that has never happened to me in my 10 years driving on public roads but Latifi’s crash into Merhi in this race is certainly NOT once of these situations. Latifi was just blatantly oblivious to what was happening in front of him on a racetrack for several seconds on a straight with no obscured vision.

            As such I can’t imagine how Latifi didn’t even notice the closing speed between himself and Merhi’s car in this accident. Nor can I understand why you could justify placing all the blame on Merhi on the basis that Latifi simply “has no reason to expect Merhi to be stopping his car at that point and no way of knowing he is before it’s too late.” Surely being prepared to react to completely unexpected circumstances should be considered a necessity for a racing driver in any category?

            Plenty of incidents occur when driving on public roads that couldn’t reasonably be expected, e.g. large vehicles broken down half way round blind corners, drivers with no functioning brake lights slowing rapidly in front for no apparent reason etc and yet as drivers we are expected to be able to react to these scenarios accordingly.

            If Latife’s peripheral vision and/or attention is really that poor then in my opinion he shouldn’t be racing at any level and in my opinion he’s certainly partly to blame for this accident. Latifi demonstrated a shocking lack of awareness in this situation considering the circumstances.

            Quite often in F1 we see drivers pull over to the pit lane exit to park their cars instead of completing another lap after taking the chequered flag because of lack of fuel. In such a situation is the driver who slows and pulls over responsible for any accident that may occur as a result of this, or is there an expectation that the drivers behind are competent and aware enough to notice this and not crash at high speed into the back of a slowing car in front?

            1. @panache Exactly. @keithcollantine‘s stance is absurd, for someone who should know the very basics of driving dynamics, as a commentator on this sport.

              Not meant as an insult to Lafiti, but someone should rally make him check his peripheral vision, he should have had more awareness even if he was concentrating in the mirrors. Though it might be also related to inexperience and bad driving.

              And presuming he is not to blame, means he should not do anything differently in a similar situation in the future.
              Surely, he himself is smarter that the people defending his innocence and he has learned a life lesson after the crash.

            2. Nicholas Port (@)
              13th July 2015, 21:21

              @panache , @neiana

              As @keithcollantine mentioned in his excellent post you cannot apply a road car mindset to this or really any racing situation. In race driving there needs to be a mutual trust between the drivers that none of them will do anything as unpredictable and dangerous as Mehri did. Without that mutual trust racing is not possible. No drivers would able to follow as closely as they do or overtake within inches of each other if a road car mentality was applied to racing. Coming out of the final corner and heading to the finish line in a close battle with the car behind, I’m sure Lafiti was glancing back and forth between his mirrors and the track ahead and since there was no obvious visible fault with Mehri’s car and Mehri was still in the racing line Lafiti should have been able to reasonably assume that Mehri would continue vacate the finish area at a responsible pace. In driving on the road it is irresponsible to make too many assumptions about what other drivers around you are going to do but for racing to exist at all those assumptions are absolutely necessary.

          3. @keithcollantine “Because he has no reason to expect Merhi to be stopping his car at that point and no way of knowing he is before it’s too late.”

            Utter nonsense on both points.

            Has NO reason to expect: Yes, there are reasons to expect such things, even if he was not looking where he was going. Situations like this happen (cars slowing down), that is good enough reason. Maybe it was not a high probability situation, but this is not time-attack, there are other cars, they brake down, they slow down etc. You have to be aware of other cars around you, especially in front of you, to see and avoid accidents.

            One very good reason to be expecting that to happen, and this also addresses your second nonsensical point, he would and should have expected that to happen, had he been looking where he was going. There are no visual obstacles between those two drivers from the exit of the last corner to the first corner. If you expect drivers to have such reactions, they would miss the first corner when they first go out on a new track by more than 0,1 km.

            Don’t be so absurd Keith:”no way of knowing he is before it’s too late”. F1 has no brake lights either, why? Because there are other ways of seeing if a car is slowing down, like, looking with your eyes and seeing it – it’s called “Visual Looming” look it up.

            Verstappen in Monaco was some 10 m behind RoGro, and he was also half-on-the-wrong side and had to go from left to right. His reaction was intimidate and those 10 m, (at a faster speed even), was just about not enough distance to make the maneuver. At a slower speed it might have been enough.

            You are saying in those ~100 meters Lafiti “had no way of knowing he is [slowing down] before it’s too late” !? Get out of here.

            Failing to avoid an accident is an offence in the rule-book. (as it should) When you have a clear view in front of you, on a straight, 100 meters is a ridiculous amount of distance to notice such trivial situation.

            Btw, Verstappen got a penalty for just about not-avoiding an unexpectedly slowing down car right in front of him, on the racing line, 10 in front of him, this unaware guy was not able to do that in 100 meters.

            I’am not sure, is it that you are satisfied with finding THE ONE to blame, then solidifying your opinion and rationalizing everything else or what?
            Or are you seriously suggesting, 100 meters, without brake lights, on a clear day, on a super wide straight, is not enough to avoid a slowing car?

            1. Jesus man, chill out. You’re getting seriously worked up about something that you can’t change. A decision was made by people whose job it is to make these decisions, I think they may be more qualified than most here. Merhi shouldn’t have been slowing down in such a manner there at all and was penalised for it. Latifi should have probably seen him earlier, perhaps he was distracted, who knows. But it’s over now.

            2. What is not over, is people making silly claims that Lefiti could not have avoided him etc.

            3. @mateuss

              people making silly claims that [Latifi] could not have avoided him

              That isn’t what I said, what I said is he was not at fault.

            4. @keithcollantine “Because he has no reason to expect Merhi to be stopping his car at that point and NO WAY OF KNOWING he is BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE. You do know these cars don’t have brake lights, right?”

              Starting to back-paddle are we? What did this mean then? If anything, you are claiming worse, acknowledgment of the situation comes before you can begin to react and avoid.

              And what are you saying now, someone is fully excused if they did not avoid an accident they easily could have and should have?

            5. @mateuss Obviously if Latifi had been on the left-hand side of the track he wouldn’t have been in a position to hit Merhi’s car to begin with. However it’s no fault of Latifi’s that he was where he was – there’s nothing wrong with a driver coming off the racing line – and from there the collision was unavoidable. Which is why I blame Merhi for it, because he was the only driver who had done anything incorrect.

            6. @keithcollantine So you are sticking with your guns? Latifi did not do anything incorrectly. What an incredible analysis.

              Nobody here is suggesting that Latifi had any responsibility of Mehri stopping, or that it is a crime to go off racing line, but it is his “fault” wherever he goes, on the racing line or not, a driver has full responsibility to look where he is going, you are trying to deny that. I find this inexplicable.

              I’ll repeat that: a driver has full responsibility to look where he is going!

              Do you have any contention with that statement?

              It seems like your blame apportioning faculties work in two bit binary: {00, 10, 01}, where {11} already causes binary overflow error.

            7. Nicholas Port (@)
              14th July 2015, 14:01

              I’ll repeat that: a driver has full responsibility to look where he is going!

              In this situation that is not entirely true. Latifi’s primary responsibility in this situation is to safely race the car behind him to the finish line. His only responsibility to the road ahead is to be aware of anything out of the ordinary such as a yellow flag or cars obviously out of control or out of place. Mehri’s decision to dramatically slow in the position on track where he was gave NO INDICATION to traffic behind him that anything was out of the ordinary which is why he was rightfully assessed a penalty.

      5. totally agree, people blaming lafiti are crazy …. just coz its end of you race doesn’t mean you park it at finish line and expect everyone else to avoid you, you have it stop safely if there are issues… he clearly braked to stop there.

      6. Keith, so often you express my opinion in a way I never seem to be able to. Part of the reason I rarely comment here! lol Keep up the good work with the commentary.

      7. Merhi wasn’t lying about his suspension problem. You can see it clearly in the title photo. [/sarcasm]

    8. Max Verstappen parked his car on the start finish straight in China and got praised for it. No praise for Merhi then? I’m sure there is some Spanish TV commentator out there that praises his diligence despite whatever problem he had. Let’s hear from people why it’s acceptable for MV because of his PU problem, but not acceptable for RM for his suspension problem…
      I mean, one would imagine, if the car slows down and stops away from a suitable part of the track, it just does it where ever that is.

      1. that is not end of the race, yellow flags were out for it to be recovered, this is stupid thing to do you cannot park it in the middle of the track and expect every one to avoid, he clearly braked to stop there.

        1. How do you know he braked to stop, not “had to brake to stop”? I don’t think they had the chance to choose when to brake down.

          1. It doesnt matter. If you are gonna just out of nowhere stop in the middle of a recatrack during an ongoing race you are gonna need a extreamly good reason.
            Clearly his reasons was not good enough.

    9. I’m not sure about anyone else, but Lance Stroll may be a quick young guy, but he just has no spacial awareness. Monza, Spa and Zandvoort he has caused what has been avoidable and dangerous which were caused by him not being spacially aware (and at Zandvoort, this cost Charles Leclerc his championship lead, if he were to finish where he started in 5th). They say all mistakes can be a learning curve, but for Lance, it’s not the biggest of curves at the moment. But then again, he’s still young with a lot of time under his belt and Ferrari still have faith in him

    10. FlyingLobster27
      13th July 2015, 22:07

      I was visiting family & friends this weekend, so I didn’t see any action live, other than my Dad chucking an Aston Martin V8 Vantage around at Lohéac today – his 60th birthday present.

      I often watch the DTM, and I must say, I’m a little disenchanted when I see the results. As much as the compensation weight system in the WTCC is frustratingly inefficient, the DTM’s system is farcically exaggerated. Whose turn is it to dominate this week? It may balance out over the season, but it makes the races really processional because drivers hold station, e.g. Mercedes, race 1 at the Norisring once the wet-to-dry pits stops had cycled through. Again, I didn’t see this weekend’s races, so I’m probably missing some interesting points, but that’s my feeling after seeing the results of the last three weekends.

    11. Bourdais was the least appreciated grand champion in his era. In the context of revisionist history, the belief is that he was only champion because he had no competition and raced for the best team. This couldn’t be any further from the truth. He beat guys like Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Graham Rahal, and Justin Wilson – who represent the current top class of drivers in IndyCar. He beat former champions like Paul Tracy, Cristiano da Matta, and Jimmy Vasser. He also beat top American open-wheel drivers from that time such as Oriol Servia, Bruno Junquiera (pre-spinal injury), and AJ Allmendinger.

      In the context of the years where he was at his best, fans – especially those from a certain extremist pro-Champ Car forum which will remain nameless (you can probably guess the one) – they didn’t like him because they felt like he whined too much and they beat everyone’s favorites. The reality was that Bourdais was the young, mega-talented superstar that the series needed to embrace to thrive after all the defections to the IndyCar Series, and instead they buried him because they still wanted PT to be the top guy.

    12. Let’s imagine for a moment that in the next F1 race, Merhi’s car suddenly stops, off the racing line, because it’s gone terminally wrong. And someone like Vettel or Hamilton is a couple of seconds behind (lapping him) and then just runs into the back of him – apparently steering into the crash, as we see on the video above.
      Clearly Merhi would not be to blame in this scenario – but would we censure the driver behind? Would we be shocked the same way?
      In the Austrian FR3.5 race, Merhi clearly did a very stupid thing. But I don’t understand why the driver behind wasn’t censured for apparently “driving while blind”, to use a ZZTop phrase. It looked like an eminently avoidable accident.

    13. Very likely Lafiti was occupied with turning knobs after crossing the line, or looking for his crew over the pit wall, or some other form of distraction. What Merhi’s did is unusual and caught Lafiti off guard. Still, any racing driver knows that, as long as you are on the track, you MUST pay attention to where you are going, as the speed you are traveling is significant. Awareness is a MUST.

      I am sure this category has some form of telemetry so stewards could verify Merhi’s claim of a “suspension problem”. He should have pulled all the way to the right and park by the wall or out of the track on the left side on the grass.

      I would split the fault in this accident 75% on Mehhi and the balance on Lafiti.

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